Internship- Teaching the Next Generation

Photo courtesy of Lisa Nelson

Years ago the only way to learn was through apprenticeship. The older masters of the trade would be shadowed by the lesser skilled to build upon their knowledge. This was a way of passing on skills to the next generation of workers. Today, it is still a useful tool in preparing future ranchers. Apprenticeship and Internship programs develop skills of the apprentice while the mentor fills their need of good-quality labor.

The Sandhills Task Force knows the importance of internships and although the Sandhills Task Force does not offer any internship programs itself, we wanted to develop a way for rancher’s and students to connect.  This page will offer contact information for ranches and interns, as well as general expectations for each.  It is up to ranch managers and interns to discuss expectations and their needs to make sure they are a good fit for each other.


Mentor Ranch Expectations

Photo courtesy of Shelly Kelly

The mentoring ranch will provided instruction, hands-on skill development, and labor in support of the daily operation of a ranch or farm. Time duration, monthly stipend amount, housing, food, etc., is at the discretion of the ranch.  This is a good way to teach biodiversity, regenerative ranching practices, and other important skills to those who will take our place one day.  It is up to the Ranch manager or owner to thoroughly interview candidates to be sure they are a right fit for their program.



The ranch is expected to:

  • Educate on good conservation practices, land management, along with a culture of handling practices that are safe for animals and people.
  • Have the desire to teach their skills to others
  • Have the time and means to provide a quality education
  • Be a full time rancher
  • To financially be able to pay your apprentice, along with providing safe quality housing


Intern Expectations

Photo courtesy of Shelly Kelly

Internship is a great way to receive hands on learning and to explore possible career opportunities.  You will also develop skills such as leadership, communication, and improved self confidence.  These skills generally lead to journey worker status.  Some of the duties you may experience, depending on the operation you will work with, include:  Animal nutrition, plant identification, cattle handling, pasture rotation, meadow haying, fencing, calving, horsemanship, stockmanship, and general ranch operations.

The intern is expected to:

  • Spend several hours a day in a work/learn environment
  • Willing to work a full time schedule
  • Be dependable and on time
  • Not afraid of hard work, long days, in various weather conditions
  • Have initiative and a strong desire to be a part of the ranching lifestyle
  • Willing to follow directions and work with a team or independently 

Remember this will be an great opportunity to learn, so what you put into it, will be what you get out of it.  If you are interested in one of the listed ranches, please reach out to them and discuss what they have to offer.  If you would like to add your contact info to our page, feel free to contact us with the information.


Helpful Resources

Mentor Handbook- Quivira

General Application

Liability Waiver



Ranchers, if this is something that interest you and would like to add your name to the list of possible internship programs, please contact us!  

      Participating Ranches                              Interns 








Lisa Nelson- Administrative Assistant






Strategic Plan

Sandhills Task Force Strategic Plan

2021 Volunteer Fire Dept Prescribed Fire Award

Once again, the Sandhills Task Force is offering a Recognition Award for all Sandhills-based Volunteer Fire Departments (VFDs) for the 2021 prescribed fire season. VFDs who assist private landowners with prescribed fire to control invasive plants species, primarily eastern red cedar trees, are eligible. Cedars are robbing ranchers of forage and they are disrupting native plant and animal populations. They are taking over many acres of the Nebraska Sandhills. Prescribed fire is a great tool that can be used to control invasive cedar trees, but some landowners feel they do not have the necessary protection to assure the fire does not escape. VFDs have equipment and volunteers that can help landowners safely conduct prescribed burns while simultaneously training VFD volunteers in use of equipment, fire behavior, fire weather implications, and more in a non-emergency setting. Controlling cedars with prescribed fire is proven to reduce the likelihood and severity of future wildfires, so helping burn cedars in a prescribed setting can pay dividends for VFDs. Local VFDs are staffed by busy volunteers that donate large amounts of personal time in service to their communities and budgets are very tight, so the Sandhills Task Force would like to recognize those VFDs who do assist in controlling cedar tree invasion using prescribed fire. Reimbursement will be at a rate of $15 per burned acre, with a maximum payment of $5,000 per VFD to spread the awards geographically. More than one VFD may split the award. Participation is defined as providing at least one truck and two trained personnel on a prescribed fire in the Sandhills. Personnel need to be actively involved.
The form must be fully completed, signed by the VFD Chief, and mailed or emailed to the address listed with a copy of the approved burn plan (including map). WRP and CRP lands are not eligible. Private lands only. Funds are not available if a contractor is hired to complete the prescribed burn. Available funds are limited.

Applications will be accepted on a continuous basis. Only complete applications will be considered. Application does
not guarantee award. Prescribed fire must be inside the boundary shown in the map below to be eligible for award.

Please contact Shelly for any questions at or 308-214-0065

VFD Prescribed Fire Award Application 2021

Prescribed fires must occur in the shaded area to qualify for the award

Event: Youth Range Camp


The Nebraska Youth Range Camp consists of a dynamic curriculum that appeals to students with a wide array of interests including, but not limited to, rangeland management, conservation, ecology, animal science, and wildlife. With nearly 50 years to perfect and evolve this curriculum, every student, no matter what prior experience they have, will learn substantial information that will help them become more aware of Nebraska’s most prevalent land use. Rangelands cover nearly 50% of Nebraska and approximately 60% of the United States. These numbers convey the dominance of this land use, but recently there has been several political issues regarding the management of these rangelands which further emphasizes the reason it is imperative for us to educate the youth so we may enable them to become proficient and effective leaders in resource management as well as educated voters.

The students that attend this camp will be actively involved with lectures, field activities, hand-on experience, and recreational leadership and team-building activities that are all led by up to 20 of Nebraska’s most respected and dedicated leaders, teachers, and professionals from various agencies, colleges, and universities. Each student will be sent home with a binder that is filled with educational materials. Must be 14-18 years old. —-COME JOIN US!!

The 2018 Nebraska Youth Range Camp is tentatively scheduled for June 11 – 15, 2018 at the Halsey State 4-H Camp.

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